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Parliamentary event to raise awareness of perinatal mental health issues

Posted: 8 December 2016
Jodi-Ann Gayle, Communications Officer

Consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Raja Gangopadhyay is hosting an event at the House of Commons on Friday 9 December 2016 to raise awareness of perinatal mental health issues.

Picture of Consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Raja GangopadhyayThe event, which is supported by local MP Richard Harrington, is called ‘The importance of addressing mental health conditions during pregnancy and beyond’. It takes place from 2pm to 5pm and is open to the public.

Dr Raja hopes to reduce the stigma around mental health conditions during pregnancy and beyond. He said: “Pregnant mothers often don’t like to talk about their mental health with others because they feel they might be looked at differently, so unless we engage the wider community, we can’t remove the stigma or the shame of mental health. Once you give women an opportunity to talk, they will and that’s what we’re doing. I feel that more perinatal psychiatric support is urgently needed for providing better care of mothers.”

Since his arrival at West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust in April 2015, Dr Raja Gangopadhyay and the perinatal mental health team have made huge improvements in the way the trust helps pregnant women who experience mental health problems.

These changes include introducing a perinatal mental health clinic at Hemel Hempstead Hospital, in addition to the clinic at Watford, to make the service more accessible to mums.

All referrals to maternity are now reviewed for mental health issues on a weekly basis through a triage system. This enables the maternity team to provide the right support to mothers in a timely manner, and arrange urgent help if required. 

Perinatal mental health is now mandatory training for midwives at the trust. The training provided by Dr Raja and his team develops their knowledge and helps staff to support the mums in their care.

Suicide in pregnancy and the first postnatal year remains one of the leading causes of maternal death. To fight the stigma and myths surrounding perinatal mental health illnesses, Dr Raja has organised community events, set up awareness stands at Watford General hospital and writes blogs to highlight the importance of looking after the mental health of pregnant women and new mothers.

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  1. For more information, please contact Jodi-Ann Gayle, Communications Officer in the Trust’s communications department on telephone: 01923 436 281 or email: info@whht.nhs.uk. Out of hours, please call 07900 228 031.
  2. West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust is a large acute trust serving people from across Hertfordshire, north London and further afield. It operates from three sites at Watford, St Albans and Hemel Hempstead hospitals and sees about 600,000 patients a year. We are one of the largest employers locally, with around 4,500 staff and volunteers.